Hacking Beatrix

July_21__2016_at_1228PM-Insta_ed

Sometimes my taste in clothing is surprisingly compatible with my essentially lazy sewing style.

I’ve been really into sleeveless tops lately, particularly ones that will be nice enough to wear to an office job at some point. LOFT and Van Huesen have some nice styles, and I’ve bought a handful of them when they’ve gone on sale. I’ve also picked up a few tops on eBay and at the thrift shop, and while getting a nice deal on a pretty shirt is fun, I like it even better when I can make it myself.

I clearly have a favorite color.

Buttonless Sleeveless Beatrix at Polka Dot Cottage

Allow me to introduce Buttonless Sleeveless Beatrix, based on the pattern by Made By Rae.

I am typically not at all adventurous when it comes to sewing. It takes me a long time to get around to trying new patterns, and once I’ve finally done it, I’ll sew half a dozen things from that same pattern, tweaking it along the way to make it fit me better: a full bust adjustment here, a hollow chest adjustment there, maybe an extra couple of inches in length, and an inch less in width. I find it much less intimidating to hack up a pattern that I’ve already tried, than it is to start a whole new one from scratch.

This is the second time I’ve hacked Beatrix. The first time was last October, when I eliminated the button band from the back and sewed the back in one single piece. I whipped out three versions then, each one better suited to my curves than the previous, as I made a series of tweaks to the shape. I have gotten a lot of wear out of those tops in the meantime, particularly the third (and best-fitting) one.

I’m essentially pretty lazy when it comes to sewing. If a garment is going to take me more than an hour to make, I’m not thrilled about it, and I will look for corners to cut. (I’ll be more careful when sewing for other people, but my own clothes? The quicker the better.) With Beatrix, the most effort-saving measures I could come up with involved eliminating the sleeves, and using a bias binding on the neck instead of the facing pattern pieces.

Buttonless Sleeveless Beatrix at Polka Dot Cottage

Buttonless Sleeveless Beatrix at Polka Dot Cottage

Luckily, doing so has left me with a shirt that is roughly the same shape as the tops I’ve been drawn to lately. Good news!

I will say, however, that the fussiness required to get bias binding to lay flat on the neck and sleeves, is probably only marginally less fussy than just adding the original sleeves and the facing. I don’t think I saved all that much effort.

I’m not entirely thrilled with the photos I took of them (I don’t think they’re particularly flattering), but I am definitely pleased with the blouses themselves. I’ve got at least one more hack in me, too – Reversible Beatrix! I’ll be back to show you that one when it’s done.

Buttonless Sleeveless Beatrix at Polka Dot Cottage

Buttonless Sleeveless Beatrix at Polka Dot Cottage

The fabrics I used (top to bottom) are:

TWiP: July vibes

This Week in Pictures (TWiP) at Polka Dot Cottage

I’ve been sewing. And antiquing. And lounging around on the beach. And grilling stuff. July got off to a rocky start, but I think I’m in the swing of it now ☺

As a matter of fact, we’ll be heading out for a swim this afternoon, and I’ve promised to bring a wineberry-based dessert. (That, my friends, may just be the most July-tastic sentence ever written.) I need to get off of the computer and go figure out what, exactly, that dessert is going to be!

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2016), plus some snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

📷 = taken with my Canon DSLR
📱 = taken with my Samsung phone

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…

Saturday

365 📷: 2016 198/366 – Now that we have an empty cabinet in here, it’s time to sort through all of the stuff that’s been sitting on the table since we emptied out the old wall unit a few months ago. I may actually be able to see the table top soon. Yay!

Sunday

Instagram 📱: Operation Prettify the Dining Room continues with the arrival of our new hand-me-down piece of furniture. My mandala now has a place to live, but it’s the only thing I am sure of. All of the other knickknacks are still spread out on the dining room table, awaiting some decisions…

Instagram 📱: Relaxing Sunday afternoon. Homemade iced coffee and the latest #knitscene. I’ve got my eye on this #alicehoodie by @kristentendyke

365 📷: 2016 199/366 – Sometimes you just want a nice cup of coffee after supper, you know?

Monday

Instagram 📱: Dear typewriter that would make an awesome photo prop, please hop into my shopping cart right now. Sincerely, Lisa [Taken at Somerville Antiques Center.]

365 📷: 2016 200/366 – We had a front door visitor – a tiny praying mantis! It’s only about an inch long.

Instagram 📱: I’ll take a tall decaf, please ☕ [Taken in Gillette, NJ.]

Tuesday

365 📷: 2016 201/366 – I admit it: I bought it because it was pink, and pink salt is weird and fun.

Wednesday

Instagram 📱: It’s hard to get excited about having the same old thing for #breakfast, when there are #traderjoes Key Lime Tea Cookies in the house…

365 📷: 2016 202/366 – I don’t grill often, because I’m not great at it (last time the fire was so wimpy, I had to bring the food inside and finish the job on the stove top), but when I do it and it’s successful, it makes me very happy. The leftovers will get us through several meals ☺

Thursday

Instagram 📱: Today’s #sewing did not go entirely without a hitch. Silver lining: I finally got to use the fancy seam ripper I made 😉 #pdc #pdcseamrippers

Instagram 📱: It’s official. I’m in love with my new shirt. 💟😊 It’s a hack of @madebyrae’s #beatrixpattern: the back is one piece(no buttons), I left off the sleeves, and I used bias tape around the openings instead of the facing pattern pieces. Fabric is from @lizzyhouse / @andoverfabrics and is my favorite color. I will definitely be making more of these, but not today. Today is a beach day, I think 🌞

Instagram 📱: Exhaaaale… [Taken in Ocean Grove, NJ.]

365 📷: 2016 203/366 – I like our Ocean Grove day trips that don’t start until 5pm. I’m not one for laying out on the beach, soaking up the sun, but get me there late, when the hottest part of the day is over, and there’s a cool breeze coming off of the ocean, and I can be very happy. A nice little hour on the beach blanket? Followed by a good supper in town, and a stroll down the Asbury Park boardwalk after dark? Yes please! [Taken in Ocean Grove, NJ.]

Instagram 📱: I’m sitting on a boardwalk bench, sipping coffee. Nice way to spend an evening. [Taken in Asbury Park, NJ.]

Friday

Instagram 📱: So, I went back and got it.

365 📷: 2016 204/366 – I finally got my sewing machine set up again. I’ve been itching to make something for weeks! Yesterday I sewed a sleeveless top, and today, more of the same. I’ve got a few more things in me before I pack the machine back up. I’ll have a proper show-and-tell on the blog next week!

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr and/or Instagram.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

SAME WEEK PREVIOUS YEARS (2008, 2014, 2015)

29-2008 This Week in Pictures, at Polka Dot Cottage This Week in Pictures (TWiP) at Polka Dot Cottage

Individual Fruit Crisps

Individual Fruit Crisps at Polka Dot CottageHow many ways can I possibly blog about making a wineberry crisp? By my count, this is the third. (Here are #1 and #2.) What can I say? Every summer we get a bigger harvest (those suckers are invasive, and we don’t exactly go to any effort to prune them back), and every summer I make a crisp out of them.

With each year comes new opportunities to refine my fruit crisp craft, and 2016’s refinement is one of personalization.

I am drawn to these for the same reason I prefer cupcakes to a full cake these days: portion control. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time eyeballing how much of a serving dish of wineberry crisp is actually 1/16th of the recipe. This may not be a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it does make it easy to accidentally sabotage your diet.

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I find these little ramekin portions perfectly satisfying, yet I know that I have a tendency to serve myself a larger scoop than this when serving from a communal dish. That’s unnecessary excess.

This attention to portion size is even more important when you are following a strict diet for health reasons. Neil, for instance, has set some guidelines for himself in terms of salt and saturated fat (since his heart attack 4 years ago), and he adheres to them strictly. I would not be able to get him to eat this stuff, if I couldn’t promise it was healthy enough, and a big part of keeping that promise lies in getting the serving size correct.

Individual Fruit Crisps at Polka Dot Cottage

So, yes, the ramekins are great for splitting up everything evenly. However, they are also perfect for customizing the recipe.

For example, Aidan has requested more of the crispy topping, and less fruit. He also doesn’t care for peaches all that much. So I put a little extra topping in his ramekins, and left out the peaches. Meanwhile, Neil’s ramekins have double the fruit, and slightly less topping.

The Recipe

I used my Wineberry Crisp 2.0 recipe, which is allergen-free, low-fat, low-sodium, and vegan as written, but you can feel free to substitute more readily-available ingredients if you have no special dietary concerns. (We don’t really need to worry about allergens around here, so I used white whole wheat flour in place of the gluten-free stuff this time.)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Wineberries or other type of raspberry
  • 2 cups Blueberries
  • 2 large Peaches very ripe
  • 1/4 cup Granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour and 1/4 teaspoon Xanthan gum (or an equal amount of your favorite flour if gluten is not an issue for you)
  • 1 teaspoon Featherweight baking powder (or regular baking powder, if you’re not watching salt intake)
  • 3/4 cup Brown sugar packed, or maple sugar
  • 1 cup Oats gluten-free, old-fashioned, rolled (or not gluten-free; your choice.)
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Sticks (or an equal amount of real butter, if you don’t care about fat content or about being vegan)

Directions

  1. Throw the two types of berries into a bowl, cut the peaches into small bits and throw those in. Sprinkle the granulated sugar over them, stir, and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and sugar. Add the oats and combine. Melt the buttery stick. Add it to the dry ingredients, a little at a time, tossing between each addition. Mix until you have a large crumb.
  3. Divide the fruit mixture evenly among 16 ramekins. There should be roughly 2.25 ounces of fruit per dish.
  4. Divide the topping evenly among the ramekins. There should be roughly 3 TB of topping per dish.
  5. Place ramekins on one or two cookie sheets and bake for 30 minutes at 350F or until topping is browned and filling is bubbly.

Individual Fruit Crisps at Polka Dot Cottage

I usually halve the recipe and make only 8 ramekins when it’s just going to be the four of us eating.

I have also been known to make the whole recipe, fill up 8 ramekins, and then put the rest in a small baking dish in the freezer. It’s handy to have an 8-serving dessert at the ready for those spontaneous Summer get-togethers.

This recipe works with all kinds of summer berries, and I suspect it would be really great with apples and pears, and a bit of apple pie spice in the topping… Actually, that sounds really delicious. I need to remember to try it in the fall!

TWiP: Ups and Downs

This Week in Pictures (TWiP) at Polka Dot Cottage

Hello. I’m a little late with today’s TWiP. Normally I write these up on Friday nights, but last night I ended up hunting Pokemon and making Wineberry Crisp instead, and this morning I’ve been taking my time (as I do most Saturday mornings).

I actually had a very eloquent few paragraphs written in my head last night as I was falling asleep, but as is often the case for me, I can’t remember much of it in the light of day. And what I do remember, I have thought better of.

So, by way of introduction this week, let me just say that it’s been a sadder week than I’m used to, and I’ve spent a lot of time with my head in the past. I think that must be a natural reaction to losing someone who was such a big part of your childhood as Michele was to mine.

I’m feeling much better at the end of this week than I was at the beginning, that is for sure. I’m happy to see the wineberries coming in, right on schedule, and all of the simple pleasures of summer are in full swing. Life goes on, eh?

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2016), plus some snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

📷 = taken with my Canon DSLR
📱 = taken with my Samsung phone

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…

Saturday

365 📱: 2016 191/366 – We visited downtown Quincy, and spent a long time wandering around Hancock Cemetary, looking at the old 17th, 18th, and 19th century graves, many of which belonged to members of John Adams’ family. He himself was buried here originally, but has since been moved (along with Abigail, John Quincy Adams, and Mrs. John Quincy Adams) to the basement of the church across the street. [Taken in Quincy, MA.]

Instagram 📱: I knit, they swim with little friends, everyone wins. [Taken in Quincy, MA.]

Sunday

365 📷: 2016 192/366 – Packing up to go home. [Taken in Quincy, MA.]

Monday

365 📷: 2016 193/366 – I said goodbye to my friend today, and then I bought this little rose bush to plant in her honor. When we were in high school, she loved red, and I think I am going to enjoy seeing it bloom every year. RIP, Michele.

Tuesday

Instagram 📱: Oh this week. Yesterday I buried a close friend. Today I found out there is another growth in my throat that needs to be removed (general anesthesia, ugh). I was going to try to get back to my normal routine today, but now all I want to do is sip coffee, watch PBS and work on this sleeve. (And that is what I’m going to do. For the next hour, at least. After that, well see.)

Instagram 📱: Love my new apron 😊. Pasta, garlic bread, and a glass of wine for supper tonight. #favoritemeal #itsthelittlethings

365 📷: 2016 194/366 – There’s nothing like a refreshing glass of ice water on a hot day.

Wednesday

Instagram 📱: The #wineberries are ready to pick! This first harvest is really puny, but I’m hoping I can sweet talk my intrepid spouse @clarkesworld into venturing further into to bushes to get the ones that shoeless sleeveless me could not reach. 💕

365 📷: 2016 195/366 – I think maybe I’ve figured out why we had kids: *Somebody* has to go after the hard-to-reach wineberries!

Thursday

365 📱: 2016 196/366 – That face Aidan makes when he’s photobombing me cracks me up. It’s too bad he’s mostly blocked out by my hair, LOL! What a nice, carefree day this was. I needed a little bit of that this week. [Taken at my parents’ house.]

Friday

365 📷: 2016 197/366 – The beauty of Wineberry Crisp in individual ramekins, is that I can customize them to everyone’s taste and dietary needs (Neil: more fruit, less crisp; Aidan: more crisp, less fruit, no peaches).

Instagram 📱: Tonight: knitting and wineberry crisp. A cup of vanilla red tea would be a perfect accompaniment if it weren’t ninety degrees outside. Think I’ll pass on that 😉. This will be a sweet, relaxing finish to a challenging week.

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr and/or Instagram.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

SAME WEEK PREVIOUS YEARS (2008, 2014, 2015)

28-2008 This Week in Pictures This Week in Pictures (TWiP) at Polka Dot Cottage

TWiP: Heavy

This Week in Pictures (TWiP) at Polka Dot Cottage

You know I like to keep it light on this blog. I tend to avoid posting things of a political nature, and I hardly ever make mention of things that may be happening in the world, no matter how prevalent they may be in my thoughts.

It’s not that world events don’t have an effect on me, it’s just that I like to keep Polka Dot Cottage as my happy little escape from the everyday.

Sometimes, though, it feels weird to me to go on cheerily chatting about fabric and knitting projects, and the like, when there are people in the world with Real Problems. Most of the time I shake it off, because I think that while the world needs to collectively come up with workable solutions to its many ills, the world also needs to provide places of retreat, where the photos of the day involve nothing more controversial than coffee cups and crocheted doilies.

The thing is, today I feel the need to briefly break my own rule for once.

I’ll never understand the gun culture in this country, and I will be the first to admit that I don’t have a good solution for how to keep people from shooting each other. The racially-charged gun violence this week, all of the recent shootings in the name of religion, and the domestic violence cases that turn deadly when there is a weapon within easy reach… I will never understand any of it.

I lost a close childhood friend to the latter this week, when her husband shot her, and then turned the gun on himself.

Like I said, I don’t have the answer, nor do I want to start a debate. I just want to put some of my later words and images for this week into perspective.

I’d also like to share the gofundme page for my friend’s three children. If you are able, and if you are so inclined ♥

So. I’m with Neil this weekend at Readercon, though my heart isn’t really in it. We go to this conference with Neil every year, but this time it has moved to a new city. So far I’m not a fan, but that may not be Quincy, MA’s fault so much as the weight of all of this weekend’s heavy thoughts, and the fact that I miss some of my favorite things to do in the old city.

I’m having fun when I manage to be distracted for a while, so I think the trick is to stay distracted for the rest of the time we are here.

I’m having trouble coming up with a good segue here so…

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2016), plus some snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

📷 = taken with my Canon DSLR
📱 = taken with my Samsung phone

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…

Saturday

365 📷: 2016 184/366 – I sometimes find myself saying things like, "I wish we had such and such a type of flowering plant in our yard." And for some reason, it has only recently occurred to me that I can do something about that. Duh. Now I just have to sweet talk Neil into planting them for me. He’s so much better at that kind of thing than I am ☺

Sunday

Instagram 📱: Yikes! I barely touched it! It was completely intact just a second ago. #moredelicatethanitlooked

365 📷: 2016 185/366 – Saw the family today, and since it’s *almost* the Fourth of July, my brother brought some sparkly stuff. [Taken at my parents’ house.]

Monday

Instagram 📱: A little Earl Gray, and a little knitting outside on this beautiful morning🌞…

Instagram 📱: Knitting again. And Aidan and I are watching the John Adams miniseries from a few years ago, which is quite good, and somewhat appropriate for the Fourth of July!

365 📷: 2016 186/366 – What a knitty day it’s been! I haven’t devoted this kind of time to this particular project before. It’s taken me a few weeks to knit 13 inches. I’ve only got five more inches to go on the body now, and then I can start on the sleeves.

Tuesday

365 📷: 2016 187/366 – Ok, here’s something fun. I spent an evening with Photoshop, one of my polymer clay canes, and my most recent crochet pieces, and came up with this pattern, which I turned into fabric. (I’ll write a blog post soon to explain how all of those things fit together). When I can get my sewing machine out again, the fabric will become a summer tank top for me.

Wednesday

365 📷: 2016 188/366 – Laundrypalooza.

Thursday

365 📷: 2016 189/366 – I had some bad news about a friend this morning, and it haunted me for the whole 4.5-hour ride to Massachusetts today. While we were eating supper at the mall, I told the boys I could use some retail therapy, so we swung into Target on the way back to the hotel, and I bought two practical things at reasonable prices. Not particularly satisfying. I’m pretty sure retail therapy requires at least minor amounts of frivolity and extravagance, so I reserve the right to try again tomorrow. [Taken in Quincy, MA.]

Friday

Instagram 📱: My annual pilgrimage to @gather_here ☺ Retail Therapy Phase Two has been officially engaged. They’ve moved since last year. This new store is so spacious and nice. [Taken in Cambridge, MA.]

Instagram 📱: The spoils of my trip to #cambridge: a cheery @merylprintandpattern flamingo scarf and a #davidolenic magnet from @boutique.fabulous, and some fabric from @gather_here – one print by @lizzyhouse / @andoverfabrics, and one by @eloiserenouf / @cloud9fabrics. Oh, and a parking ticket, because we checked the meter about 30 seconds too late. Oh well. Not letting that ruin an otherwise great shopping trip ☺ [Taken in Quincy, MA.]

365 📷: 2016 190/366 – So far, I have to say, I am not liking staying in Quincy as much as I have liked staying in Burlington in the previous years of this conference. I find the layout of the surrounding area to be so confusing that I am constantly using my phone’s GPS to get anywhere I want to go. Burlington was so straightforward by comparison. I’m missing some of my favorite Burlington destinations, too, like the big used book store. I’m probably just being overly cranky and sensitive. On the plus side, I had a nice time in Cambridge this morning. The shopping and my kids were a welcome distraction from my preoccupying thoughts. Also, our hotel sits on top of a hill, and there are some nifty views. This one is from the window near the bank of elevators. [Taken in Quincy, MA.]

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr and/or Instagram.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

SAME WEEK PREVIOUS YEARS (2008, 2014, 2015)

27-2008 This Week in Pictures This Week in Pictures (TWiP) at Polka Dot Cottage